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Walker, Marte, Qualls progressing towards return

MILWAUKEE -- Without question, the Pirates have had one of the healthiest seasons of any Major League team. It is hard to imagine another club that has had to place only one position player on the disabled list, and even that didn't happen until two weeks ago, when Starling Marte incurred a strained right oblique.

Now the Bucs hope to get back to full health as the season winds into the wilderness of September. Toward that end:

• Neil Walker (lower-back tightness) on Saturday had what manager Clint Hurdle described as "his best day so far" since coming down with the issue on Monday. He hasn't yet been cleared for baseball activities, but "had more movement and comfort, and was very encouraged."

• Marte continues to ramp up his baseball activities, and could possibly begin a brief rehab assignment by Wednesday. He began shagging flies in the outfield on Saturday, and is scheduled to try running the bases on Tuesday, a final test before the rehab decision is made.

• Right-hander Chad Qualls (discomfort in right big toe) left the club Sunday morning for Louisville, where on Monday he will make a rehab appearance with Indianapolis.

MILWAUKEE -- Without question, the Pirates have had one of the healthiest seasons of any Major League team. It is hard to imagine another club that has had to place only one position player on the disabled list, and even that didn't happen until two weeks ago, when Starling Marte incurred a strained right oblique.

Now the Bucs hope to get back to full health as the season winds into the wilderness of September. Toward that end:

• Neil Walker (lower-back tightness) on Saturday had what manager Clint Hurdle described as "his best day so far" since coming down with the issue on Monday. He hasn't yet been cleared for baseball activities, but "had more movement and comfort, and was very encouraged."

• Marte continues to ramp up his baseball activities, and could possibly begin a brief rehab assignment by Wednesday. He began shagging flies in the outfield on Saturday, and is scheduled to try running the bases on Tuesday, a final test before the rehab decision is made.

• Right-hander Chad Qualls (discomfort in right big toe) left the club Sunday morning for Louisville, where on Monday he will make a rehab appearance with Indianapolis.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.